Firefox 48 Beta, Release, and E10S

Tomorrow In the next few days, Firefox 48 Beta becomes available. If all goes well in our beta testing, we’re about 6 weeks away from shipping the first phase of E10S to Firefox release users with the launch of Firefox 48 on August 2nd.

E10S is short for “Electrolysis”. Similar to how chemists can use the technique called electrolysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, we’re using project Electrolysis to split Firefox into a UI process and a content process. Splitting UI from content means that when a web page is devouring your computer’s processor,  your tabs and buttons and menus won’t lock up too.

E10S has been enabled for some portion of our Beta audience since December of 2015 and we’ve had it enabled for half of our Beta population for the last 6 weeks. The team has been comparing the half with E10S to the half without for things like stability, responsiveness, memory usage, and more. And so far, so good. We’ve met all of our release criteria and assuming nothing shows up in Beta 48, we should be good to go.

(When we hit release in about six weeks, not all of our Firefox 48 users will get E10S. The teams have been working really hard but we’ve still got some compatibility and other work to do to make E10S ready for everyone. The groups that will have to wait a bit for E10S account for about half of our release users and include Windows XP users, users with screen readers, RTL users, and the largest group, extension users.)

This is a huge change for Firefox, the largest we’ve ever shipped. But don’t worry. The Electrolysis team at Mozilla has a release roll-out plan that ensures we’re going slowly, measuring as we go and that we can throttle up as well as down depending on what we see.

Here’s what that looks like. When we launch Firefox 48, approximately 1% of eligible Firefox users will get updated to E10S immediately. The 1% of release users should get us up to a population similar to what we have in Beta so we’ll be able compare the two. About ten days after launch, we’ll get another round of feedback and analysis related to the release users with and without E10S. Assuming all is well, we’ll turn the knobs so that the rest of the eligible Firefox users get updated to E10S over the following weeks. If we run into issues, we can slow the roll-out, pause it, or even disable E10S for those who got it. We have all the knobs.

As noted earlier, this is just the first phase. Next up we’ll be working to get E10S to the cohorts not eligible in Firefox 48. We want 100% of our release users to benefit from this massive improvement. After that, we’ll be working on support for multiple content processes. With that foundation in place, the next projects are sandboxing for security, and isolating extensions into their own processes.

It’s an exciting time at Mozilla. E10S is the largest change we’ve ever made to Firefox and we hope you’ll help us get through this with as few surprises as possible. To help out, get on Beta and let us know what you find.

update: There is some confusion about what’s new here. I think I can clear that up. E10S has been in beta for some time. That’s not new. It was there for half of our beta users for the entire previous 6-weeks cycle. What’s new here is that we’ve just recently met all of our release criteria and we think we can take the feature from beta to release in the next 6 weeks. Now we’re down to one final cycle — assuming we don’t encounter any surprises. That’s where you all come in. Please help us test this upcoming Firefox 48 beta well so we have confidence when we get to the end of the beta cycle that E10S works well for everyone that gets it. Thanks.

94 thoughts on “Firefox 48 Beta, Release, and E10S

  1. As long as you do not add back built inside customization like it was available in versions beyond 29 i will no longer use Firefox.

    And i am not the only geek who thinks that way. it would be nice if you would stop competing with Chrome. Let Firefox be Firefox. There is zero reason you should have to compete with Chrome.

  2. Do you have any idea how bad this looks? The precedent of any entity controlling user browsers by external knobs is frightening. What other knobs do you have, and who can control these knobs? I can’t decide to test the new functionality for myself? Those who want to contribute are arbitrarily denied? Please explain this to me, because the explanation did not make me feel very good about what is going on.

  3. Would all the work in Electrolysis explain why I have experienced such instability in Firefox for the last half a year?

    I’m a coder, and just by the behavior, I was guessing there was a new codebase and there were a lot of bugs to get fixed. But I hit my breaking point today and went searching. The funny thing is there *is* this new codebase for Electrolysis, which would explain it, but apparently Electrolysis hasn’t been rolled out. … So maybe there were no coders maintaining the old branch of Firefox?

    Or did my particular install of Firefox develop some hinky-ness somehow ……… it’s driving me nuts, the freezing and “restart Firefox?” pop-up when it crashes, the “load only when active after restart”, on and on …… etc. etc. … not stable at all anymore. Not usable anymore. … after 13 years of use.

    Any input to this?

  4. Loved Firefox in the 3,0 something days … now the version numbers keep jumping and adding more and more bloatware cr*p. Please bring back the true Firefox, I miss it. No need for Firefox Hello (browse with a friend) and save to pocket cr*p please. At least make available a stripped version without this junk available. Cheers.

  5. Firefox was my browser from its infancy but over time it simply became too bloated and insecure. Switched a year ago to Chrome and I have to say, I don’t regret the switch. Sure wish Mozilla could get back to its roots and rewrite the browser but I suspect they haven’t the money or manpower to do it. Too bad.

  6. What James said ^

    Why does everything have to get so bloated and full of crap I don’t want?

  7. Go go Firefox! As a former Mozilla Mozilla user and current Firefox user, I wish you guys the best with the update.

  8. Congratulations for this exciting release. I don’t understand what other users are complaining about. I’ve been using Firefox since it was called “Phoenix” and the level of progress with each major release is amazing.

  9. Multiprocessing! Why???? I switched to Firefox only because it didn’t have such thing as multiprocessing.

    I hope users can turn off this thing. I don’t have enough RAM to keep all the processes with lots of extensions and plugins enabled.

    And seriously, stop competing with Chrome. Chrome decided to say “**** you users” – please don’t do the same.

  10. I have to say I agree with @Xandros. I have been using Firefox since it was in pre-Beta version, but didn’t commit to installing it on my computer and using it as my “main-use” web-browser until version 2.0 (when it began to get stable-enough to [actually] *use* ). My Toshiba Satellite has 2GB of RAM and cannot be upgraded further: that’s the most the motherboard [and chipset] will take and handle. Plus the processor is a “without HT-Technology” Pentium 4 of 2.8GHz. Chrome-dome croaks on it. (Literally!). Ribbit!

    And my Asus laptop has a 2nd-generation Intel Core i3 processor (Intel Core i3 2330M 2.2GHz with 4GB of RAM, and 16GB is the maximum the motherboard [and chipset] will take and handle). I already added a 8GB RAM-module to the second [empty] RAM-slot because it was acting really really slow when I would try out a GNU+Linux distro on it booting from the Live environment (not just when running from a LiveDVD but also from a LiveUSB [Live] environment). I cannot, do not, and will not need a Firefox that just adds more work to the processor when it is already taxed [to the max] as it is.
    (On any given day I have more than 500 *ACTIVE* tabs open [at any given time], and I have recently begun to add add-ons to my Firefox web-browser (because I know that my computer, let alone Firefox, cannot handle it if I add all the add-ons that I *WANT* to add on to it), and so far, I’ve had to make-do with 3:
    Tab Groups,
    HTTPS-Everywhere,
    and UBlock-Origin.
    (I’ve also wanted to add the Add-On that gets rid of Australis, ClassicThemeRestorer,
    the Add-On that brings back the Status-Bar, Status-Bar-4-Eva/Status-Bar-4-Ever,
    the Add-On that gets rid of the “select either a blank New-Tab page or a “suggested tiles” New-Tab page” and gives you a FULLY-*BLANK* New-Tab page (I think it’s the Add-On that brings back the “about:blank” setting in the “about:config” page),
    the Add-On that has[/brings-back] the dedicated “Add-On”-bar to put your Add-On buttons (I’m so fucking SICK of all these Add-On buttons taking the space that SHOULD [and MUST] belong to the address-bar and the search-bar),
    and any other add-on that brings back the look and feel [and functionality] of Firefox back to [how it was] [in] the Firefox-2.0 days)).

    PLEASE, *PLEASE*, **PLEASE** for the love of God and Humanity Mozilla, STOP *CRAPPING* on our Firefox! 8-(

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